Minestrone con Cavolo Nero, (Tuscan Kale Vegetable Soup) Super food in a bowl!


This is the ultimate Italian winter meal. You may call it minestrone, I have dubbed it “super food in a bowl”! How can you go wrong when your meal is packed-full of dark green, robust leaves, antioxidants and vitamins? With the added nutrients of borlotti beans, extra-virgin olive oil and the kick of chillie, you have secured yourself a spa treatment for your insides that is sure to keep you warm from the first winter chill. Minestrone with cavolo nero is so much more than just a soup, so rich of  revitalizing and hearty deliciousness, you feel restored and healthier after each mouthful.


3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1 leek, well washed and thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 small carrot, sliced

1 celery stick, sliced

1 chunk of parmesan cheese crust (optional, omit for a vegan version)

2 potatoes

1 small handful of diced pancetta or speck (omit for a vegetarian, vegan version)

2 cups of fresh borlotti beans (or two tins, well rinsed. Alternatively, soak  2 cups of dried beans for 12 hours, then cook in simmering water for 2 hours)

2/3 cup tin tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of Brussel sprouts, quartered and outer leaves removed

4-5 cavolo nero leaves, stalk removed, shredded

3/4 of baby pasta (such as ditalini, orzo, macaroni)

Extra-virgin olive oil (or Chillie oil) to serve


1. Sautee’ the sliced and chopped vegetables with the oil in a large saucepan. Add the pancetta and cheese crust (if using)

2. Add the potatoes and the beans, the tomatoes and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the beans are tender. (if using tinned beans, only add them 25 minutes into cooking the potatoes with the rest of the vegetables)

3. Add salt and pepper (only salt the beans after they are cooked, or they will wrinkle up)

4. Add a handful of Brussel Sprouts, the shredded cavolo nero and 3/4 cup of baby pasta (I used ditalini)

5. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until the pasta is nicely al dente. Turn off the heat.

6. Serve hot with a good swirl of extra-virgin olive oil or chillie oil.


I am not feeling the cold tonight…


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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Lyn Roe says:

    Silvia – this recipe looks amazing and just my type of food. I love anything with beans/pulses in it and as for Cavolo Nero – adore it, but so hard to get. I tried growing some with seeds I bought at a Gardening Show – but no luck, think the ants walked off with them. When we can get Cavolo Nero it is as dear as gold almost. I love the intense flavour of it.
    This is another recipe I shall try out.

  2. Silvia says:

    Are you in the southern hemisphere feeling the cold too? Than this is really perfect winter food!

    Ps The Ants seem to have great taste…

  3. Lyn says:

    Silvia, yes I am in Sydney and detesting Winter. Will look out for Cavalo Nero this weekend at Farmers Markets and remember to get some beans soaked. Where do you manage to get your supplies of Cavalo Nero that don’t cost the earth?
    Am loving your food site and all the amazing recipes, thank you for your generosity in sharing such lovely recipes with us enthusiastic cooks!

    1. Silvia says:

      Hey Lyn, I normally find Cavolo Nero at Harry’s Farm or Fratelli Fresh, as well as fresh Borlotti beans. You know, tinned borlotti are perfectly fine too.
      Have you looked at this post? https://silviascucina.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/a-hearty-winter-soup/, I think you may like this soup too.

  4. Dear Silvia, I loved it. It’s amazing how your italian recipes have relatives here im Portugal. Look at this soup: http://comopaoparalaranjas.blogspot.pt/2012/10/jantarinho-de-feijao-branco.html


    1. Muito bem! I love our our cultures intertwine so much when it comes to food, family and arts.

  5. Buonissimo. It makes me laugh when they sell kale as the new, cool superfood. My Nonna Miriam used to make kale soups and bruschettas all the time, and I assure you that she never fancied herself as a trendsetter or a health fanatic!

    1. yes, funny how nutritionists think they have discovered this ‘new’ hot thing…

  6. Corri says:

    Hi Silvia, I want to make this soup today but am abit confused. In the method you mention tomatoes (soup looks nice and red) but don’t mention them in the ingredients. Can you clarify?

    1. Hi Corri,
      it’s 2/3 cup, about 200 ml of tin tomatoes. You can also use fresh, if you prefer, just peel first and chop toughly. Cheers

  7. I love this soup! It’s the perfect recipe to fill the body with healthy yet tasty ingredients. I’ll be making it this week.

    1. Super healthy, just what we need to fight off seasonal colds.

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